So I’m sitting at my desk on a random Wednesday afternoon. I’m at work, I’m bored (don’t tell my boss) and I’m scrolling through Twitter because even though I have better things to do, I don’t feel like doing them. Next thing this tweet falls across my timeline and it’s Jagermeister asking me if I want to escape the mundane. Are you kidding me? Not only do I want to “escape” the mundane, I want to klap this mundane ass day. I want to get out of this office so badly, I spend the next 10 minutes interacting with a robot so I can win tickets to Enter The Woods and flip this week on its head. And I do. Sick.
12 May rolls around and I fly to Joburg because it’s a Saturday morning and I’m done with the idea that I need to stay home in order to “find myself”. I want to find myself on a dance floor, after a round of Ice Cold Shots and twisting upon a street-style gender-fluid Joburg creative with massive tunnels, or some shit. I don’t really know what to expect at Enter The Woods, because there’s been a lot of hype and I don’t know how they’re going to follow through. When I get to Turbine Hall, though, in baggy jeans and a bomber jacket (it’s Joburg after all) the hype starts to make sense. The space is darkened, elegant chairs are draped in ghostly white, neon lights like lasers direct me through the maze of visual stimulants.
I’m a curious cat, which I understand might get me killed one day. Nevertheless, I uncover one of the chairs because I absolutely have to know what they’re hiding. On the fine leather seat, I discover a wax coin token, waiting for me. I find out that means I get to play at one of the activation stations. Firmly in the game now, I keep my eyes peeled for more tokens to the adventure because I kinda want to get my nails done, kinda want a new pair of kicks from Converse. There are some bottles of Jager suspended in ice sculptures somewhere in the middle, and there are people hacking away at them maniacally. I consider using my token on a smash of the ice, but I elect to get styled up instead. Now that I’m sparkled up in a fresh style, my eyes are darting around for the photographer and the unmissable Sun Gun his assistant is carting around. I walk around and see that some guy is getting his fresh fade did by a barber and I gotta say he’s looking cute. At one point the nail station is full of boys getting their tips on too. It’s a vibe. There are piles of Converse sneakers being customised by African Ginger right before my eyes. I learn that there’s a different kind of special token required to take home a pair of kicks, so now my mission for the night is finding the damn token.
DBN Gogo hits the decks and my vosho knee is already ready to pop. There’s not a stiff pair of legs in the room, everyone’s getting down with the gqom. At the bar, they’re pawning off shots for R1 each, cocktails for R5 and I’m getting my groove on. Next thing I know, a marching band comes crashing down the stairs. It’s the mother-effin Brass Cartel, my dudes. They’re playing through the crowd and suddenly the curtains open, ballerinas are on the other side, ready and waiting and my shit is about to be lost.
At some point dancers in TRON-style laser suits bust out and flawlessly present moves I’d personally be afraid to attempt. Confetti cannons are fired. Everyone looks incredible and each performance is hell-bent on delivering their heart to the audience. I’m blurry on the details, thanks to those R5 cocktails. When Rouge gets on stage she has the whole crowd doing the CEO step. Everyone is wildin’ out. ShoMadjozi dances so hard while spitting bars that we are proverbially mowed down by her moves. The party is jumping. Kenzhero hits the stage with a giant band and a full performance. I’m lit at this point, so everything after that is touch and go, not gonna lie. I made a last feeble attempt at finding a token for the kicks, but I’m pretty sure they’ve all been found. I’m jelly but I’m not mad. It’s been insane so far, and I’m already wearing Gucci sneakers, so I don’t really have room to complain.
Enter the Woods was an EXPERIENCE. Not because the performers were incredible, drinks were cheap and there was free shit for days, although those things were rad. It was an experience because, for an entire evening, I got to forget the very meaning of the word mundane. Thrilled from start to bitter end, I didn’t ever want to exit the woods.
Photography by Lee Roy Jason and Dat Guy Tee